Bhopal: If any proof was needed that politics is increasingly becoming the exclusive preserve of the rich, and that politicians are growing richer by the day here it is.
The average financial assets of MLAs elected to the Madhya Pradesh Assembly in 2013 was Rs5.24 crore and of the 230 members in the Assembly, as many as 161 (70%) were crorepatis, i.e., their assets were worth more than Rs1 crore.
And mind you, this is what they had officially declared in their affidavits filed with the Election Commission of India. Their actual assets are anybody’s guess. Another rider: These are 2013 figures and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of India has grown by almost 25% over the past five years. And, so, the current value of these assets are likely to be much higher.
The wealthiest MLA
Sanjay Pathak of BJP, who was elected from Vijayraghavgarh constituency. His assets totalled Rs121.32 crore. A shade less wealthier was Chetan Kashyap of the BJP, elected from Katni City constituency, who, as per his own admission, owned assets worth Rs120.39 crore. He was followed by Sanjay Sharma of the BJP from Tendukheda constituency whose declared assets were Rs65.42 crore.
As for parties, the BJP topped the list, with 118 of its 165 MLAs being crorepatis. The percentage of crorepati MLAs of the Congress was 69% and that of the BSP was 25%. Even among Independents, 67% were crorepatis.
And the MLAs in the lowest bracket in terms of assets were also no paupers. Usha Thakur, elected from Indore-3 constituency had declared assets worth Rs1.38 lakh, followed by Shantilal Bhilwal of BJP from Jhabua, with assets worth Rs 4.88 lakhs and Dinesh Ahirwar of the Congress from Jatara, with assets amounting to Rs6.02 lakh.
Sanjay Pathak had declared in his ITR that his annual income in FY 2012-13 was Rs8.94 crore. He was followed by Sanjay Sharma, whose income was Rs3.44 crore and Jayant Malaiya the finance minister in the current government who, according to his ITR, had earned Rs88.33 lakh in one year.
Juxtapose this against the per capita income of Madhya Pradesh in the fiscal year 2013-14, which was a measly Rs54,030. Thus, the earnings of the richest MLA was around 1,600 times of what an average resident of the state earned.
The big jump in 5 years
Only 40% of the members of the thirteenth Vidhan Sabha of the state, elected in 2008, were crorepatis. This figure jumped to 70 per cent in 2013.
The percentage of crorepati Congress MLAs jumped from 53% in 2008 to 69% in 2013.
In case of the BSP, the corresponding figures were 0% and 25% respectively.
None of the Independents who had won in the 2008 elections were crorepatis. However, in 2013, the percentage of crorepatis among Independents rose to 67%.
How and why the MLAs grew richer is a matter of speculation. But what is certain is that only the rich have a chance at winning the elections and the richer you are, the higher are your chances of victory; that most of our MLAs are rolling in wealth and that as they spend more and more time in the Assembly, they become more richer.
Victory is a function of wealth in elections
An analysis done by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), based on a study of the affidavits filed by the MLAs along with their nomination papers, shows that richer candidates stand a higher chance of getting elected.
Thus, 217 of the 230 MLAs occupied the top three positions in terms of assets among the candidates in their constituencies; while nearly half of them (47 per cent) were the richest among their rivals. Only 1.3 per cent of the winners were at the fourth position and a measly 0.4 per cent were at the fifth position.
Being a legislator is good for your pocket
Even more interestingly, a term as an MLA, it seems, contributes immensely to the economic well-being of our netas.
Of the 230 members of the fourteenth Assembly of the state (elected in 2013), 65 were also the members of the earlier House.
And, figures show how being an MLA helped them grow richer. The average assets of these 65 legislators in 2008 was Rs1.92 crore. This shot up by nearly 300% to Rs 5.59 crore in 2013.